Focus on digitisation

Keep your friends close – digitally

Social networks are suitable for maintaining contacts.
Imago Images / ZUMA Wire
Social networks are suitable for maintaining contacts.

The positive experience on site lays the foundation for turning first-time visitors into regulars. The decision to return soon can be strengthened via digital marketing.

This text appeared in the summer issue of foodservice as part of the focus on digitisation. Read now in the E-Paper (German)

Regular customers are among the most valuable capital of restaurant businesses - the Corona crisis has also shown this impressively."Regular customers were those who bought vouchers, for example at PayNowEatLater, or even donated money for their favorite Italian," says Michael Kuriat, who has long been involved with digital marketing opportunities and observes trends worldwide. After the re-launch, it was the regular customers who were the first to return to their locales.

Digital stamp cards bind customers

There is no doubt that the basis for loyalty is analogous, through quality of service and food. But the frequency of return and the intensity of the 'relationship' can be fueled digitally to a considerable extent. A reliable tool is the 'stamp card'. "The digitalized version offers numerous advantages over the paper card," says Kuriat."Digital loyalty programs can not only help to build up a solid regular clientele, but also to provide them regularly with news, events, day tickets or even vouchers for the next restaurant visit, thus offering a special service ". Classics are for example birthday mailings or reactivation measures ("We miss you!").

Loyalty programs also offer the host the advantage of identifying the guest during each visit and using the data collected to gain insights for marketing measures. "The decisive factor here is a standardized guest database that not only records contact data and the consent for marketing measures of its guests, but also preferences and order frequencies," emphasises Katharina Blöcher, a researcher at the University of Leipzig who is concerned with digital innovations for the catering industry.

Social media: No need for all

As for more private matters, an ever greater part of contact cultivation takes place in the social media. For communication, the whole spectrum from Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Youtube to Pinterest has to be considered. Social media is fast-moving - new platforms and tools are constantly being created, bringing new opportunities and challenges. Social media can be used to pursue a wide variety of objectives: "Increasing awareness, image cultivation, customer loyalty, but also new customer acquisition, recruiting, and advertising of new business areas - such as take-away - and sales campaigns are all areas that can be incorporated into the social media strategy," says Kuriat.

Kuriat sees the advantage over the classic media in a precisely tailored approach to the target group, which is reached via the respective network. To do this, however, the restaurateur must know his guests well and know which channel to use to reach his target group. "It's about being active on the relevant networks and not about participating everywhere," says Kuriat emphatically. Good storytelling is in demand in communication via social media. "We all remember stories much more than numbers." In addition, creative formats such as photos, GIFs and moving images should enliven the messages.